Total time: 1 hour, 50 minutes plus overnight refrigeration
Servings: 10 to 12
Note: From Alain Giraud. Published in an article by Leslie Brenner July 14, 2004. The dough is delicate and somewhat difficult to handle, but well worth the effort. It's easiest to roll it out between industrial-sized sheets of plastic wrap (available at Smart N' Final). The quality of the butter is important: Giraud recommends Plugra, available at Trader Joe's. If the figs aren't very ripe and sweet, sprinkle them with brown sugar.
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons blanched almond meal
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1. Cream the butter in a electric mixer with the paddle attachment at medium speed. Add the sugar and scrape down the sides. Add the eggs and beat on medium speed until combined, about 1 minute.
2. Add the almond meal and vanilla extract. Beat at low speed; add the flour and baking powder and continue to mix at low speed just until well combined. Do not overwork.
3. Place the dough on a large piece of plastic wrap and form into a rectangle 2 inches thick. Seal in plastic wrap, then cover with foil. Refrigerate overnight.
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons flour
1 cup blanched almond meal
1. Cream the butter in an electric mixer using the paddle attachment at medium speed. Add the sugar and eggs, scraping down the sides of the bowl, and beat on medium speed about 1 minute.
2. In a small bowl, combine the flour and almond meal; add to the butter, egg and sugar mixture while mixing at low speed. Mix until well combined, about 1 minute. Set aside or refrigerate until ready to use.
16 to 20 Black Mission or other fresh figs
2 tablespoons apricot jam
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted
1. Lightly butter a (12-inch) tart mold (1-inch deep) with a removable bottom. Place the sugar dough between 2 sheets of plastic wrap or parchment paper. Working quickly because the dough will be soft, roll the dough gently to a three-eighths-inch thickness. The circle will be about 15 inches round. Refrigerate for 15 minutes to firm up the dough.
2. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the plastic wrap or parchment from the top of dough. Turn the dough over and place it in the tart mold. Gently remove the second piece of plastic wrap. Press into the sides and bottom and remove excess dough from the rim. With a fork, prick the dough. Place a double sheet of plastic wrap in the tart shell and add dried beans or baking weights. Bake for 15 minutes.
3. Remove the beans and plastic wrap and bake the tart shell until it's golden brown, an additional 20 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes. Spoon the frangipane into the shell and spread evenly with an offset spatula. Bake until the frangipane is set, about 15 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes.
4. Increase the oven heat to 400 degrees. Remove the fig stems and quarter the figs vertically. Starting on the outer edge of the tart, place the fig quarters with the pointed ends facing out and the skin sides down. Continue to form concentric circles with the fig quarters. For the smaller circles in the center, point the ends up to look like a flower. Bake for 15 minutes, then cool for 15 minutes.
5. Place the apricot jam and a teaspoon of water in a small saucepan. Heat on low heat until the mixture is spreadable. With a pastry brush, delicately brush all of the figs with the glaze.
6. Before serving, remove the tart from the pan and sprinkle the sliced almonds over the top. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Each serving: 683 calories; 10 grams protein; 88 grams carbohydrates; 6 grams fiber; 34 grams fat; 15 grams saturated fat; 116 mg. cholesterol; 84 mg. sodium.